The man in the orange Russian spacesuit has a new way to get you excited about the final frontier.
Photographer Tim Dodd has been traveling the world as the "Everyday Astronaut" since buying that second-hand suit in an online auction in 2013, spurring enthusiasm for space exploration and trying to inspire people to seek out their own passions, whatever those may be.
And now he's taking the project into a new medium: a Facebook Watch series called "Spacing Out! with the Everyday Astronaut," which you can watch on Space.com's Facebook page. (Space.com is a partner on the show, which is produced by Jupiter Entertainment and MadWest Content.) [Giant Leaps: Top Milestones of Human Spaceflight]
The first episode premieres May 4, the day before NASA's Mars InSight lander is scheduled to launch toward the Red Planet from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Appropriately enough, that episode is about what it would be like to walk on Mars.
"I'm trying not to do a spoiler, but, basically, a dream of mine came true," Dodd said of the initial episode. "We did something I've been wanting to do for years, via weather balloons. Let's just leave it at that."
Four additional episodes will air over the following two months, on dates that have yet to be announced. They'll focus on air-launched rocket systems, the importance of sound suppression to spaceflight, rocket-landing technology and in-space maneuvering, Dodd said. Each episode will be 10 to 15 minutes long and feature the Everyday Astronaut's blend of humor and enthusiasm.
"Enthusiasm is contagious," Dodd told Space.com. "What I try to embody and try really hard to do is remember that childhood sense of awe and wonder, and continually embrace that as a full-grown adult."
The Facebook Watch platform should boost the new series' ability to spread that feeling around, he added.
"I'm really excited about being on Facebook because of the social aspect. You can't comment on and share a Netflix show," Dodd said. "I think this'll be a really good way to engage the community — actually get people's input and see people's excitement and see it all play out."
There was a moment early on, incidentally, when it seemed like none of this would ever play out. As soon as Dodd got the suit — which is a high-altitude flight suit, not the clunky gear used for spacewalks— he impulsively donned it, even locking the helmet on.
This latter move was a mistake.
"I had this full-blown moment of panic where I realized, 'I don't know how to unlock this face mask, and this is airtight. I can't breathe,'" Dodd said. "It was pretty scary."
But the panic was fleeting. Dodd soon found a plug in the mask by following an air hose's snaking path. He popped the plug free, got some fresh air flowing, and became the Everyday Astronaut rather than a 2013 Darwin Award winner. Inspiring indeed!
You can learn more about the Everyday Astronaut project and see lots of Dodd's incredible photos here: https://everydayastronaut.com.
Visit "Spacing Out! with the Everyday Astronaut" on Facebook Watch Friday, May 4, for the series premiere presented by Space.com.